Black Law Students Association Equity Demands

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Black Law Students Association Equity Demands November 10, 2020

To: President Snyder, Dean Waterstone, and the Faculty and Administration at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles From: The Black Law Students Association at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Re: LLS & efforts to create an anti-racist campus


Black Law Students Association Equity Demands

November 10, 2020

I. ​Introduction Today, BLSA calls upon the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles (“LLS”) administration to directly combat the effects of systemic racism that continue to poison our legal system and our campus climate. From the disproportionate abuse of Black people at the hands of police, to legal doctrines that still grant police extraordinary power to use deadly force, from racial disproportionalities in the criminal justice system, to voter suppression and housing and employment discrimination, the inequities that demand attention from the legal academy and LLS in particular are boundless. The mission of LLS explicitly encompasses a particular responsibility to ​provide

opportunities for legal education to the poor, the underprivileged, women, and minorities​. LLS’ mission also explicitly recognizes its moral and ethical obligation to ​provide opportunities for a

quality legal education to qualified applicants of diverse backgrounds, interests and professional objectives.​ BLSA challenges LLS to meet every intention set forth in that mission. There are very few moments in history when an institution’s commitment to its mission statement is tested. However, when that moment does arise, the entire world watches with a keen eye to see if that institution will act in true alignment with the rhetoric it touts. Our students, our alumni, and our present and future donors will return to this moment. They will watch and analyze whether LLS actually ​supported all legal requirements for non-discrimination and equal opportunity in all of its programs, provided opportunities to qualified applicants of diverse backgrounds, and demonstrated a deep concern for social justice​. BLSA calls upon the administration at LLS to stand in solidarity with its Black community, to uphold the values it proclaims proudly within its mission statement, and to exemplify both of these objectives through its tangible and financial future actions. Accordingly, BLSA demands that the entire administration at LLS adopt and commit to the curricular and structural changes proposed within this demand for equity.

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II. ​Equity Demands BLSA demands the following: A mandatory shift to an anti-racist education

LLS must establish a mandatory session on the study of racism and systemic oppression for incoming students during orientation that is led by an expert qualified to adequately address the conversation and relay its significance to admits at the start of every new school year.​ ​The first year of law school is a highly challenging and formative one. New students are taught to think critically about the law, but it is rarely emphasized that the law can, and should, be questioned. Law has been written, twisted, and used to create, prop up, and strengthen systemic inequality at every level. It is critical for incoming 1L students to not only understand this but also to be given opportunities to discuss and grapple with that reality–and it is critical that this opportunity be provided to them as soon as they begin their legal journey. Providing opportunities like this include, but are not limited to, requiring incoming 1L students to not only read poignant material over summer, like the New Jim Crow, but also to come to orientation prepared to discuss their content. Many LLS students still tout their belief that systemic oppression is a thing of the past and that our legal system has no obligation to address inequality in law and the broader society. It is LLS' duty not only to fervently denounce this uninformed belief, but also to detail how the law has used racism to create and propagate systemic oppression throughout our country. First-year classes must incorporate the recently enacted learning outcome regarding systemic inequality into all 1L foundational courses.​ ​During the Fall 2020 semester, the law school faculty voted unanimously to adopt a new learning outcome for LLS.​1​ This learning outcome sets a goal for LLS which will ensure that graduating students are able to think critically about the law and examine its relationship to systemic inequality. Faculty members can ​choose to incorporate the learning outcome into their desired courses. We believe this learning outcome should be ​required in the first year​. The integration of this new learning outcome into every 1L 1

LLS’ 9th learning outcome, approved by faculty in October of 2020, states, “Upon completion of the JD program, students will be able to critically examine the law’s relationship to systemic inequality, including discrimination on the basis of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, immigration status and class.”

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course will require professors to facilitate and lead discussions about systemic inequality, allowing them to take the pressure off of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (“BIPOC”) students to lead these conversations within the classroom. BIPOC students need the space to express their frustrations and disillusionment, ask questions, and to simply remain students. There are so few BIPOC, and particularly Black students, in a classroom at any given time, it is an undue burden for these students to raise their hand, call attention to themselves, or to ask their professor to address an experience that so deeply and personally affects them. If LLS wants all of its students to graduate having mastered the goals set out within its new learning outcome, it must make the integration of the new learning outcome mandatory for all 1L courses. LLS must enact a graduation requirement mandating that each student complete a course that explores racism and systemic oppression under the law.​ ​A single unit is clearly not enough to fully educate students on how systematic oppression and racism intertwine with the law. Ideally, a course like this should go beyond what is touched on in our bar classes and encompass the effects of discrimination in lawyering. LLS is the #1 feeder to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, therefore, to thoroughly implement a curriculum that assists in creating race-conscious lawyers, BLSA ​demands​ that additional courses be offered, in addition to the courses already offered to satisfy the upper division writing requirement, that provide an opportunity for students to have their papers published within a race-focused law review, the creation of which is discussed in the section below. Examples of courses we wish to see offered in the upcoming semesters, with a focus on current issues, include, but are not limited to: Progressive Grassroots Lawyering - a non-traditional lawyering course to prepare students to take action, Prison Law and Policy, Philosophy of Punishment, Collaborative Grassroots Lawyering, Race, Social Psychology and the Legal Process, Law and Policing, a Civil Rights class, and more classes that teach Critical Race Theory.

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Increased academic and occupational opportunities for BIPOC students LLS must commit to a deadline for the opening of a Racial Justice Center with sufficient funding for faculty, advisors, clinics, and externship opportunities for students. I​ deally, the Racial

Justice Center will house classes focused on racial justice, and host a law review specializing in race and the law – providing students the opportunity to write about legal issues that directly impact them. The Racial Justice Center should also be a safe space on campus that provides students of color with additional support such as academic advisors, career counselors, as well as mental and physical wellness support services. It should provide students opportunities to explore research ideas and undertake new projects, including, but not limited to: drafting legislation, participating in faculty research projects, and aiding in the facilitation of independent studies in legal topics that focus on racial justice for students. Additionally, because Los Angeles is a hub for social and civil justice organizations, such as the ACLU, NAACP, Legal Aid, and NLG, LLS should aim to partner these organizations with students in the Racial Justice Center to provide more opportunities for them to work with attorneys that practice in their field of interest. LLS should expand its strong academic support program in order to provide underrepresented students with additional academic resources and tools to succeed. C ​ urrently, LLS lacks the administrative follow-through for underrepresented students via an established program that supports students who may likely need additional help during law school. The establishment of a stronger academic support program is essential to empowering and retaining first-generation law students and students from marginalized communities. The academic support program that LLS currently provides includes a summer program prior to the start of law school and a program that students can apply into after their first semester, once they are assigned to Privacy Torts. By not only providing academic support to students before their first semester of law school, but also throughout their first years as a whole, LLS actively contributes to a decrease in the amount of students of color assigned to Privacy Torts. Essentially, BLSA demands LLS be more proactive and less reactive to the academic shortcomings and struggles experienced by its Black law students. LLS needs a program where academic preparation is not only offered at the outset, but also maintained as students progress through LLS. Ideally, this 5


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program would be something students can opt into during summer or their first semester and would consist of tools like weekly study group sessions, Saturday practice exams, academic workshops, programs for 2L and 3L students, and supplemental bar review courses. Increased ways to hold faculty and administration accountable LLS must create a centralized process for students to air grievances and alert the administration to instances of racism, hate, or bias within our community and our classrooms, as well as complete transparency in how the administration plans to address such grievances. ​The current grievance process that LLS utilizes is not central to our law school. Further, it does not offer students a confidential method in which to report such concerns. We demand a process that is housed within our law school and that accounts for the particularities of our respective law school environment. Ideally, this process would either establish a point person, employed within the law school, for students to air grievances to directly. Students must give an opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of faculty in addressing race and systemic inequality within their respective classes. BLSA d​ emands​ an opportunity for students to reflect on and evaluate each of their professors’ efficacy in addressing race and systemic inequality within their respective classes. T ​ his can be done by ​including questions within class evaluations that directly evaluate the sufficiency in which a professor has taught and facilitated conversations involving race, racism, and systemic oppression within their respective course topic and their respective classroom as a whole. Additional spaces should be offered for students within class evaluations to raise concerns regarding racial bias or insensitivities that occured during class as well.

Increased hiring of Black LLS administration and faculty LLS must hire more Black professors that are qualified to advance LLS’ antiracist initiatives in order to adequately meet the needs of the increasingly diverse student body.​ Although BLSA is enthusiastic to provide insight, help create opportunities, and facilitate efforts that create an

anti-racist campus structure within LLS, it is the administration’s job to lead these efforts. There is

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no longer an excuse to have so few Black professors when there are a myriad of qualified Black lawyers and educators across the world. By hiring more Black professors at LLS and creating racial equity amongst our faculty, LLS sets the foundation that is inarguably necessary to not only to start leading the conversations around racism and systemic oppression, but also to retain that leadership far into the future. LLS must hire at least one Black career counselor within the Career Development Office. The necessity for Black career counselors at LLS is imperative to the long-term success of your most overlooked community. There are six individuals in the Career Development Office who work directly with students, all white women. Regardless of their qualifications, the inevitable presence of implicit bias and lack of diversity creates a harmfully narrow perspective from which students of different races and gender identifications can see themselves. There are unique challenges that Black individuals face while ​applying, interviewing, and negotiating jobs in the legal field, that can only

be recognized by individuals who have lived the experience. The Career Development Office must honor its commitment ​to help students and graduates realize their full potential in the job market.​ A mere 5% of lawyers in this country are Black. Further, minority women have the

highest attrition rate in law firms. Until LLS recognizes the necessity of employing Black career counselors within the Career Development Office, by the start of next school year, in order to support Black students in finding jobs, especially during these uncertain times, it cannot claim to fulfill its anti-racist objective. The wide range of career goals, and niche challenges that are faced by BIPOC students, cannot be addressed by an all-white entity. LLS must be transparent regarding the institution’s hiring processes and commit to providing faculty and staff hiring data to BLSA and the broader campus community.​ I​ n order to decenter

settler perspectives in LLS and to allow our campus to become the blueprint of the diversity that is sorely lacking within the legal field, we must be aware of our hiring patterns, understand their deficiencies, and work to make them better. Raw data is a necessary method to track all of this. BLSA demands raw data with the numbers of Black applicants and employees at LLS be publicly disseminated by January 1st, 2021. This number should include the percentage of interviews conducted with Black applicants for full time teaching positions and career development office positions, as well as the percentage of offers given to Black applicants, including what rate they are accepting said offers in comparison to non-Black applicants. 7


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A commitment to the recruitment and retention of Black students LLS must increase recruitment efforts for Black students. ​During the Fall 2020 semester,

LLS, the same institution that is committed to diversity and understands the importance of having Black students enrolled in law school, has a 1L section with only ​two ​Black students in it. LLS has repeatedly acknowledged the importance of Black students within its law school setting. However, acknowledgment and action are two different things.​ ​To move toward a truly diverse institution LLS must: 1) Increase recruitment at Historically Black Colleges and Universities; 2) Host recruitment events via Zoom or on campus when permitted; 3) Strengthen relationships with Black alumni; 4) Increase administrative effort to solicit donations that will be dedicated to supporting future BIPOC students; 5) Create relationships with firms and organizations who currently, or can one day, sponsor Black students’ legal education; 6) Host and sponsor a Black accepted students day event for Black admits to give them the chance to meet with current Black LLS students, Black Professors, and Black alumni. 7) Create a Black Law Student Endowment Fund which offers ​ten​ full academic scholarships to incoming Black Students each year. LLS must increase scholarship offers for Black students.​ T ​ he tall costs of attending an

institution of higher education have particularly harmful effects on Black students.​2​ If LLS is truly committed to recruiting Black students, then it must put more money towards accomplishing it. Most of the current Black law students who received a scholarship from LLS, expressed they would not have been able to attend this institution had it not been for the scholarship that they were awarded. As of 2018, the average income for Black families is approximately $41,000. At LLS, the estimated cost of attendance for a student not living at home is $94,290.00, for a student living at home, the cost of attendance is $60,860. This disparity between the average Black household income and the cost of attending a private law school is enormous. LLS’ commitment to recruitment and retention must include increased efforts to fund Black students’ legal education. ​Aggressively pursuing funds that will be dedicated to Black students is a critical step to accomplishing this goal. ​Don Corbett, Stunted Growth: Assessing the Stagnant Enrollment of African American Students at the Nation's Law Schools, 18 TEMP. POL. & CIV. Rts. L. REV. 177 (2008). 2

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LLS must create a Black Law Student Endowment Fund. T ​ o establish a firm commitment

to the equity and inclusivity of Black students and to reaffirm LLS’s dedication to providing

opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds, we request that LLS create an endowment fund to provide ​ten​ Black Students from each incoming 1L class a full academic scholarship beginning in Fall 2021. This scholarship will help bridge the financial gap that many Black

students face, while also readily increasing Black students' presence on campus. By increasing representation of Black students on campus LLS will be aiding in the diversification of the classroom discussion and the legal profession as a whole. A commitment to anti-racist campus security LLS’ campus security must be required to complete implicit bias and anti-racist training that is implemented immediately​. ​The structuring of LLS’ campus operations should reflect the

anti-racist objective that our administration is committed to fulfilling. Unfortunately, our campus security does not presently reflect that objective. Countless incidences of racial profiling, aggressive communication tactics, and discriminatory treatment has persisted throughout LLS’ campus security without a clear form of accountability imposed by our institution. Without a clear understanding of how students can hold LLS campus security accountable for its affirmative acts of discrimination, LLS will never attain the anti-racist campus structure it seeks. Therefore, w​e ​demand​ LLS provide formal anti-racist and implicit bias training process for current and future LLS campus security

guards and implement a thorough accountability and disciplinary procedure that is made known to the entire LLS community.

The law school administration must include the whole community, especially people of color and in the surrounding community, in discussions of security and harm on campus. In particular, LLS must consult with faculty, staff, students of color, and other historically marginalized groups, to ensure that they feel safe and part of developing campus security policy. Furthermore, LLS must reach beyond the members of our campus community to include local stakeholders to ensure that they feel safe and welcomed on our campus. This is especially important given our clinical programs’ interactions with members of the local community, and a documented series of failures on the part of campus security to adopt an anti-racist posture to 9


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clinical clients on our campus. These failures extend beyond the clinic, however, to friends and family members of students, staff, and faculty at various law-school events. LLS must develop a campus safety oversight committee that includes students of color to consult with the Dean responsible for security, develop harm reduction practices, and respond to complaints or suggestions from the campus community. T ​ he oversight committee should actively seek feedback from people of color and groups that are historically marginalized, especially

people of color and first-generation students, as well as the local community, recognizing that such groups often feel uncomfortable or disempowered and therefore may not come forward on their own. LLS must develop, and publicize, a strategy to develop a range of responders and responses to the variety of calls for help on campus. Too often, security is used as a default for problems that include mental health or homelessness issues. LLS must develop and publicize anti-racist policies that address how race, gender, and class perceptions affect calls for security, and for dealing with conflicts in which members of our community seek to leverage security to enforce norms on our campus.

An establishment of open communication between LLS administration and BLSA LLS leadership must establish forms of communication that are receptive to and considerate of the Black community’s subjective beliefs and needs.​ ​This demand encompasses, but is not limited to, open communication between BLSA and the Deans, faculty, and staff at LLS, whether verbal, in print, or electronic. Further, we ​demand​ that any communications to the greater LLS and LMU community in which BLSA’s name, input, or contribution is involved, be approved by BLSA before being disseminated. BLSA must be given the opportunity to provide input and feedback on any communications regarding​ ​who we are and what we represent​. If BLSA has not participated in the drafting process or approved a final communication of this sort, BLSA’s name should not be

included. One of the most critical aspects of fulfilling LLS’ anti-racist objective lies within the trust, the communication, and the teamwork that the administration maintains with its Black community. Without a communication style that is transparent, and in alignment with the demands BLSA has included within this section, LLS will never achieve its anti-racist objective.

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Additional steps toward becoming an anti-racist institution LLS must acknowledge Black holidays, Black leaders, Black alumni, and all significant incidents within the Black community alike.​ By intentionally adding positive symbolism throughout our campus and showing direct concern for significant moments that impact the Black community, LLS makes it clear to Black LLS community members that they play an essential role upon our campus and within the legal community as a whole. Further, by directly acknowledging significant celebrations, like Juneteenth and Black History month, to the greater LLS community via panels, emails, coffee chats, or other, LLS provides educational opportunities for all of its students to learn about the contributions of Black lawyers, scholars, and community leaders alike. Psychologists have established through many studies that symbolism plays a crucial role in how individuals perceive themselves in society. Therefore, BLSA demands LLS utilize positive symbolism and direct acknowledgments to tangibly, authentically, and holistically implement its anti-racist objective.

A commitment to improving community relations on campus LLS must make a commitment to providing space for the local community on campus consistent with its social justice and anti-racist mission. T ​ hat means that the law school must

ensure it is integrated into the community and find ways to increase its positive presence in the Pico-Union area. Currently, LLS is disconnected from its surroundings in ways that undermine its social justice and anti-racist commitments. LLS must establish its law school campus as a welcoming one which includes providing free spaces for co-sponsored events and rolling back the current practice of charging community members for that space. The current policy is inconsistent with inclusion because it affects the people who have the most need for free space, but who are willing to organize events that benefit the community. The current policy requires faculty, staff, and students to consult with the administration for waivers in ways that undermine their ability to provide an inclusive space for social justice driven events. It also undermines the established relationships with social justice and anti-racist groups that have been developed over years by faculty, staff, and students. This current system, which requires that faculty and staff first seek permission from security, makes it especially hard for clinical faculty, who are contract employees with a more fragile institutional status, but with a deep connection with the local community and a distinctive social justice and anti-racist mission, to negotiate to put on events. 11


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If the law school will not persuade the President to rescind this policy, it must find space in the budget to fund a policy of community engagement through campus space.

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III. ​Conclusion This country is in a moment of reckoning. There are thousands of people still out in the streets every day protesting injustices that keep coming and marching for sustainable change. There are thousands more advocating for social transformation in classrooms, workplaces, legislative halls and judicial chambers. As we’ve just seen, record numbers of citizens who are invigorated by the movement and driven by hope participated in this year’s electoral process. Just like each individual in this country has had to decide how they will show up for the movement and create these changes, so do our educational institutions. LLS is widely recognized as a diverse institution that values social justice and produces lawyers who want to make a difference. Many of us decided to enroll at LLS for these exact reasons. Boasting a diverse student body and a commitment to broadly serving underrepresented communities is wonderful, but at this moment, it is not enough from LLS. In making these demands, we are asking LLS to step up, and stand affirmatively with its Black students by fully committing to being ​actively anti-racist​.

We recognize that some things will take some time–it is important that things are done right rather than quickly. And we acknowledge that it is difficult to confront our own imperfections and admit what we have been doing has been problematic for others. But this internal reckoning is absolutely necessary. As students who care deeply about our entire community, we ask that you commit to making every single effort that we have described in this demand for equity. No legal education is complete without an understanding of the law’s role in creating and perpetuating systemic inequality within this country. It is undeniable and Black students have had to face this reality every single day of our lives. Once we graduate, we will forever represent LLS as we embark on our careers and live out the rest of our lives. We should be able to say that we felt safe here, that we were valued, and that the institution which relies upon us being here so it can boast diversity actually stood by us, and sincerely committed to doing better for its past, present, and future Black students. A commitment to these changes will begin the process of shaping and fostering a safer, more welcoming environment for Black and non-Black students of color to learn in. It will attract anti-racist students and produce anti-racist lawyers. It will make LLS a leader in this moment in history and put us on the path to exemplifying what a truly equitable and anti-racist institution should look like.

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BLSA reserves the right to add, edit, or otherwise modify this document at any time after its submission to the Deans, faculty, and administration at LLS.

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